In September and October 1939, Ellet operated off the Grand Banks on Neutrality Patrol, then with Destroyer Division 18 out of Galveston with the West Gulf Patrol. Based at San Diego, after 26 February 1940, she joined in Battle Force maneuvers as far as Hawaii. In the summer of 1941, her home port became Pearl Harbor and in October, she brought home an Army survey expedition from Christmas Island to Honolulu.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941, Ellet was returning from reinforcing Wake Island in the screen of TF 8 with which she remained throughout December. After a convoy escort voyage to the West Coast, she guarded a troop convoy back to Christmas Island in February.
In April, she screened carrier TF 16, which launched B-25s in the famous Halsey-Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and other Japanese cities and returned to Pearl Harbor the 25th. The same ships raced 6 days later to reinforce the carriers headed for the great Allied victory of the Coral Sea. It was won before Ellet’s force got there, so TF 16 returned to Pearl Harbor. TF 16 sailed from Pearl Harbor 28 May 1942 once more to join TF 17. Together they turned back the Japanese fleet in the decisive Battle of Midway on 4, 5 and 6 June. The Japanese lost four carriers, many aircraft, an appalling number of irreplaceable aviators. Ellet returned to Pearl Harbor 13 June to prepare for invading the Solomons first American land offensive of the war. (continued)